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Birthday Reflections


market access was founded in 2005 by Dean McDonald and Michael Murphy.

Michael had been conducting qualitative research with the Cancer Council for a number of years.

Dean was working as a qual / quant researcher with a number of private sector clients, having spent several years as a research specialist in strategy consulting firms.


After meeting at the birthday of a mutual friend Dean and Michael discovered they shared an interest in both the process and utility of research information provision. When Michael was approached by a commercial client he sought Dean’s assistance and they decided to submit as a team.


Combining Mikes love of focus group insight elicitation with Deans love of assessing the strategic and tactical opportunities afforded by such insight proved to be an excellent combination.

Despite a minor hiccup when Dean broke his leg quite severely, resulting in a major hospitalization and associated attempts to provide useful strategic advice whilst heavily sedated, both realised that there was an opportunity to do much more as a team than as individuals.


market access was thus formed, with its inception date determined by Mike on the basis of it being astrologically auspicious.

Mike’s interest in astrology and related alternative ways of viewing the world provided an interesting counterpoint to Dean’s passion for the scientific method and associated logic and rationality.

Over many subsequent years this dynamic tension was explored in areas such as staff recruitment – with Mike assessing potential fit on the basis of astrological information and Dean relying on batteries of psychological testing.

And Mike I do concede that the astrological assessments generally proved more insightful and useful than all of the psych testing.


While there is a degree of humour associated with such reminiscences it does highlight the willingness to question, challenge and seek open-mindedly for insight from any possible source; a value that has been central to the market access approach to research across the decades.

Over the years we have been fortunate to work with some fantastic clients and have had some exceptional staff.

Mike retained his relationships with organisations working in preventative health, and even now, after more than a quarter of a century, his work is still a key foundation of many of the cancer prevention communications to which we and our children are exposed.

Until the GFC changed the economic landscape Dean maintained a role as a leading supplier of qualitative insight into motor vehicle and property purchase.


One of our earliest clients as the Commonwealth Service Delivery Agency (ultimately Centrelink and more recently a part of the Commonwealth Human Services portfolio) and we have conducted research for them continuously since that time. Similarly we have worked with the TAC conducting research to assist decision-making in relation to people inured in motor vehicle accidents.


Since well before it became flavour of the month market access focussed on behaviour, behavioural outcomes, behavioural change and included core constructs from noted behavioural interventionists and theorists such as Kahneman and Tversky and Prochaska and DiClemente.

 The use of established and validated models of human behaviour and motivation has been at the core of the market access approach to research.


For most of the first seven years market access comprised just Mike and Dean, with a number of specialist associates providing unique expertise on an as-needs basis.

From here we were ably assisted by a number of people. Key amongst them was Dawn Kanost who over several years had roles as an administrator, financial controller and ultimately as a qualitative researcher. She was also responsible for ensuring positive energy flowed into our facilities through the use the principles of Feng Shui.

We also owe a huge thanks to Elaine Moss who as office manager kept us on the straight and narrow across many years and who has continued to provide assistance even in what appears to be quasi-retirement.

And a final massive thanks to Erin Walsh whose ability to implement good office systems and processes is matched only be her peerless quality as a transcriber.


Over the years we have worked with some wonderful researchers. In some cases their ability and value has become more apparent as we have observed their successful evolution as research professionals.


One of our first research professionals was Louise McDonald (no relation) who has forged a successful career as a research supplier and in senior administrative roles within the Department of Education. Also of note was Virginia Shedden who has gone on to run two very successful research companies, the first of which (Two Degrees) is in my mind still one of the best named and branded research companies I have seen.


While it would be nice to feel some pride in their achievements that would grossly overstate our involvement in their success.

Notwithstanding that we are very pleased that they have had the success they deserve and are very grateful for the contributions they made.


Through our connections with Centrelink we were introduced to Charmian Huggett who joined market access and then became a director in 2009. Charmian contributes a very broad experience base having worked in multiple jurisdictions, multiple industries and with some of the largest and best known research suppliers.


Not long after Charmian joined Michael left to pursue opportunities that could only be provided in an organisation with much greater resources and infrastructure than market access.

He has subsequently returned to his roots, working for himself, where he continues to deliver some of the best health-related communications research one could hope to find.


A twenty first birthday experience provides much opportunity for both joyous and soulful reflection.

Though the people at market access and the related research industry have changed, much that has always been at the core of our approach to research and the provision of insight remains the same.

Although, as with any small business, the incumbent personnel are those charting its course, the fundamental direction is strongly influenced by all of those who have come before – thank you for your contributions.

And finally happy 21st birthday to all of those involved, and thanks for all of your contributions.    



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